Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sleep, why do you elude me?!

I used to always think I would be one of those people that could just avoid the issues you begin to have as one gets older. You know, things like heartburn and achy muscles. I thought, "I have TONS of energy and I will always have this energy!" "I don't even know what heartburn feels like, and I'm never gonna find out!"

Yeeeeeaaaah, there's my optimism coming out full force.

I still think I have a lot of energy, and that I will have it for a long time, but lately I have noticed some changes. I do get heartburn sometimes (but nothing too terrible) and I get achy muscles, but not from getting older, usually from working out (you know, the good pain!). What I have noticed is mainly how I sleep at night.

Sleeping through the night is practically impossible most nights. Take Sunday night for example, I went to bed pretty early. I was in bed by 9pm and read until about 10pm, then it was lights out. I must have fallen asleep almost immediately, because I woke up again at 12:30 (for reasons unknown) and I was sure that it was almost time to get up. Usually when I wake up in the middle of the night I purposely do not look at the clock because it messes with my mind (and ability to sleep) but Sunday night I made that fateful mistake.

Because I couldn't fall back to sleep.

Somehow I finally fell asleep again, but then woke up at 3am. At this point I considered staying up, but knew that I would be wanting to kill someone on Monday if I did that.

I fell asleep again and slept until 6am. Overall, I got enough sleep, but it wasn't the kind of sleep I needed.

Yes, the kind.

Here comes a little secret of mine.

Ok, so it's not really a secret.

I have an obsession with an app called Sleep Cycle. I'm not the only one either, there are several other bloggers that I know use it too.

This app tracks your sleep patterns at night and graphs it for you.


For, ahem, 182 nights I would sleep with my phone underneath my pillow and right away in the morning I would check out my "stats."

Yeah, yeah. I hear you snickering. I know. I know. It's dorky! But... it's interesting! No?

Over the summer I became really obsessed* with this thing, and completely fascinated with the science behind sleep. I used to always say that when I needed sleep I was like a junky battery that needed charging, and basically? That's true.

There are two kinds of sleep:

Deep sleep and REM sleep.

Deep sleep restores your body, and it's what your body will restore first. REM sleep restores your mind and it restores that second. During the night you should go in and out of deep and REM, but if you need more deep, you'll stay in deep sleep.

So, how does your phone know what kind of sleep you're in, you ask? Well, when you are in deep sleep you're paralyzed. You literally do not move at all (except for breathing, obviously) but in REM you're probably moving a little bit because this is when you dream. The accelerometer in the phone can tell when you're moving or not, and therefore knows what kind of sleep you're in.

As you can see from the screen shot above, I haven't used the app since November 20th. Maybe I got tired of it? I think I need to use it though. When I used it, I was so much more aware of why I was tired and I did a better job of making sure I got plenty of the sleep I needed.

Maybe the struggle to sleep isn't because I'm getting older (I'm only 29 for crying out loud), maybe it's stress. Honestly, that is the likely possibility. I wouldn't call stress either, though. I think it's more of... just a lot going on. I like being this busy, I really do, but it does keep your mind racing a million miles a minute pretty much every day.

Who knows! All I do know is, I like sleep and I want more of it. Both REM and deep, please. ;)

What subject fascinates you, and you can't seem to get enough of, that others think is strange? How much sleep do you need/get a night?

*I was so obsessed that one weekend at the lake I was drunkenly rearranging my friends' guest bedroom furniture so that my charger would reach the outlet so I could charge my phone and use the app. Yeah... I still get crap for that. Probably will for a loooong time.


Christine Thomas said...

Oooh! I have been wanting to try this and forgot! haha I think it's really interesting to see what kind and how much sleep we are actually getting. I know I am always tired. I haven't had a good nights sleep since before I got married to my Iowa farm boy husband ;)

Marisa A. said...

haha I would like to try that but I doubt my totally uncool Blackberry has that app. I usually sleep well, but occasionally I'll be like you waking up at 1am certain that it's time to get up. Then can't fall back asleep for the rest of the night. It is the suxxx

Shoshanah said...

I do think this is fascinating, but in some ways I think I would just rather not know because I would probably just wind up obsessing over it!

Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

I have been waiting for this post since our weekend in August! About time! ;)

I still use my sleep app pretty faithfully. I mostly like the gentle way it wakes me up vs. a blaring alarm clock. I need at least 7 hours of sleep but 8-9 is preferable!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Oh wow, that is crazy that you are averaging less than 7 hours of sleep a night! I need about 8 to feel good. I was getting about 7/night this summer and that was just not enough!

There are times when I will wake up in the middle of the night and I will just take more melatonin if I can't fall back asleep. I avoid my phone or laptop as I have read that there is a difference in the light projected that stimulates the brain and makes it harder for you fall back asleep.

I think if your sleep problems persist, you should consider going to a sleep clinic... I've known a couple of people who have gone and they have been able to figure out what is causing their sleep issues. Might be worth looking into as not getting enough sleep will eventually wear you down!

Anonymous said...

I have a ton of issues sleeping. Having a sleep app would just make me worry I wasn't getting enough/the right kind of sleep...and I still wouldn't sleep.

Great, now I want to take a nap.

Stephany said...

I have used the sleep app religiously since you told me about it a few weeks ago. I LOVE the way it wakes me up and I never feel like I want to kill my alarm clock anymore. ;)

That said, I learned how LITTLE sleep I really am getting and how fitful it is. I average less than 7 hours a night which is NOT good for me. And I think that average is a little off since I count in weekend where I sleep 8-9 hours. I usually get about 6-6.5 hours of sleep on weekdays. Not enough!

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

That sucks that you are having trouble sleeping. I need about 8 hours to not be a grumpy b the next day. Last night I got about 6, so woo hoo for today.

How does that app know what you are doing?